The Seattle Seahawks are a different team from the first part of the 2012 season. What's made a difference is the contribution from their roster depth, and the rise of a specialist player many wondered about on NFL Draft day 2012.
Bruce Irvin isn't a tackling machine. In fact, he doesn't play all that often. He comes in on passing downs to wreak havoc with quarterbacks, and not much else. His snap count - the number of plays he's been on the field - is pretty low (465 ***including special teams). If you compare his numbers to defensive star Kam Chancellor's 1032 snaps (***including special teams), Irvin has to be one of the best "rested" members of the entire Seahawks defense.
Selected with the 15th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the choice had more than a few media pundits scratching their heads. His size - 6'3", 248 lbs - didn't really bode well against the massive offensive tackles he'd face as a defensive end or pass rushing outside linebacker. Considered a raw talent coming out of West Virginia, his rookie year has been interesting to watch. Irvin has 8 sacks this year, and when you consider how little he's been on the field, it makes you wonder just how specialize the position is that Pete Carroll has him playing. Think about the number of snaps NFL sack leader J.J. Watt (20.5) has this season - 939 (incl. STs). What makes the stats of both players so intriguing are the "tackles" numbers. Watt has 77, while Irvin has 16, and eight of those were his sacks.
When rookie Bruce Irvin hits the field, it isn't to help in run or pass coverage. He has one job, and one job alone: sacking the quarterback. In the upcoming game against a shaky Rams offensive line, 3rd downs will be crucial. Enter Irvin, with orders to pin his ears back and use his tremendous speed and strength to get to Sam Bradford at all costs. He'll be on the Rams offensive line coach Paul Boudreau's mind on Sunday, and Brian Schottenheimer will need to find a way to at least chip block him to slow him down. Irvin is going to wreak havoc with the Rams on 3rd and long situations.